Former Super Eagles striker Benedict Akwegbu has revealed that the three-time African champions missed the services of some of the experienced players at the 2002 Korea Japan World Cup.
Then team captain Sunday Oliseh, Finidi George, Victor Ikpeba, and other senior players were dropped from the Korea Japan World Cup squad following their unresolved differences with the NFF hierarchy after the Mali 2002 African cup of Nations.
Coach Festus Onigbinde who took over the team from late coach, Shuabu Amodu after the Super Eagles finished third at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations, in conjunction with the NFF decided to invited new players like Femi Opabunmi, Bartholomew Ogbeche, Justice Christopher e.t.c and dropped the big names.
While speaking with www.brila.net, Akwegbu who was part of the squad to the Mundial applaused the decision to invite some younger players into the team, but he admitted the Super Eagles suffered in the absence of the experienced players.
“I think it was the right decision to by the NFF because they wanted to encourage them and that time these players are very young and eager to play, but you can have a mixture of experience and young players”.
“But I think they should have included players like Sunday Oliseh, Finidi George, Tijani Babangida because their experience would have helped the team because they played in two world cup and that would have brought a lot to the team.”
Akwuegbu who scored twice to help Nigeria qualify for the tournament added that the Federation should have resolved their differences with the experienced players and take them to the World Cup.
” NFF should have resolved the problem and bring these players back to the team, and take them to the 2002 World cup and that would have made the team stronger and other countries would have been afraid of Nigeria.”
“So it was a pity that Sunday Oliseh, Victor Ikpeba, Finidi George, Tijani Babangida were not included in the team because these players are massive, they are assets to any team in the world.” he told brila.net.
It would be recalled that the Super Eagles crashed out of the tournament in the first round following defeats to Argentina and Sweden.
Akwuegbu made his solitary appearance at the tournament in the third group game against England that ended in a goalless draw.
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